In the world of triathlon, Penticton has been etched into Ironman history from the beginning. In 1983, on the 20th of August, twenty-three men and one woman entered the waters of Lake Okanagan in what was called the Ultra Triathlon. From that day on, the city of Penticton has a synonymous with triathlon in Canada. In 1986, the race became Ironman Canada and a qualifier for the Ironman World Championship.
Part of the Ironman Canada appeal was the course in Penticton, offering a unique race experience. The traditional single-loop swim and bike courses, along with the out-and-back run served up a variety of sights and challenges. Those who competed in Penticton were exposed to the pristine waters of Lake Okanogan, lush farmlands, bountiful orchards and vineyards, along with arid regions and mountain passes.
Since the first winners, Mike Wagstaff and Dyanne Lynch, took the titles in 1983, we have seen a “who’s who” of the Ironman royalty race in Penticton. Ironman World Champions Paula Newby Fraser, Peter Reid, Heather Fuhr, Lori Bowden, Scott Tinley, Scott Molina, Erin Baker, Thomas Hellriegel and Faris Al Sutan have all competed, and many have won.
In 2012, Ironman and the city of Penticton split ways, and the race relocated to Whistler. Now with the possibility of an Ironman return to Penticton, here are five of Ironman Canada’s most memorable moments.
1) On August 2oth, 1983, 24 triathletes entered Lake Okanagan to compete in the first edition of the race – the Ultra Triathlon.
2) In 1986, the Ultra Triathlon became Ironman Canda – an official Ironman Qualifier for the World Championship in Kona.
3) On August 27th, 2000, Canadians Peter Reid and Lori Bowden – then married, both won Ironman Canada in Penticton, BC.
4) Ironman Canada 2003 – the year there was a large forest fire in the region, and the city just refused not to have the race.
5) Peter Reid and Lori Bowden hold the record for the most Ironman Canada wins by a Canadian (two for Reid and five for Bowden). Reid shares the record with Dave Kirk who won the first two editions. The list of single Ironman Canada (Whistler and Penticton) winners include Brent McMahon, Trevor Wurtele, Jasper Blake, Tom Evans, Garrett MacFayden and Noel Harrington. Lisa Bentley follows Bowden with three Ironman Canada wins in Penticton.